Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris’ slow, heartfelt cover of Leonard Cohen’s classic “Hallelujah” was a definite highlight of Jan. 22’s Hope for Haiti Now telethon. It was also the first time millions of TV viewers met Morris, an old friend of Timberlake’s who recently put out his debut, When Everything Breaks Open, on the pop star’s Tennman Records. We got Morris on the phone to talk about the telethon, his album — and when we can expect new music from his pal Justin.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did your participation in the Hope for Haiti Now telethon come together?
MATT MORRIS: I was in Los Angeles, promoting When Everything Breaks Open, when everything was coming together for the telethon. Justin asked if I would like to sing with him. I said, “Of course, in a heartbeat.”
Had he already picked which song to sing?
No. We brainstormed. He suggested it as an idea. We chewed on that for a minute. I had shot a video of me singing “Help!”, a ballad version of the Beatles song, which I posted last year on my YouTube page. He called me a few days prior and said, “Maybe we should think about performing ‘Help!'” So we took both of those songs to the rehearsal space and played through them. “Hallelujah” just felt right. The arrangement came together quickly and naturally.
It’s a song that’s been memorably covered by many artists.
It is a much-covered song, indeed. It’s a great song for it. It has the classic melody. It cuts to the heart. There have been some epic covers, some simple covers. I’m honored to be on the list of people who got a chance to cover the song, you know?